You Produce What You Program

By Doug Franklin March 24, 2022

We feel tons of pressure when leading a youth ministry. We want students to like coming to youth group. We want parents to believe that bringing their students to our ministry will have an impact on their child. We want our church leaders to see that we have a plan and that we can execute that plan. Due to these pressures, what often gets lost is spiritual development of students.

So many competing pressures drive us to push programs. Why? Because we can control programs and they can make use look busy and productive.

The problem with programs is they quickly become a monster you must feed. The result is more games, retreats, trips, and events. Less mentoring, Bible study, and discipleship.

Results of prioritizing programming over discipleship

  • Students will pick and choose which events they attend based on if they think it will be fun.
  • Outdoing what you did last year will become your focus.
  • You will see students moving away from faith 6–12 months after leaving your youth group.

Results of prioritizing discipleship over programming

  • Games will become a tool for relationship building. Game time becomes a celebration of relationships, and stories will be told of how students work together to win a challenge.
  • Students will come to youth group for the relationships with adult volunteers.
  • Events will be about how much time the group gets to spend together, not about what activity we will be doing.
  • Students will feel free to share real fears they are facing in life.

Programs have their place in youth ministry—they are a tool, not the end goal. When used properly, they are a powerful tool that will lead students to trust adults and believe what they are teaching.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More